December 25th, 2020 - April
A FaceTime call is just a FaceTime call. April tells herself this again and again when she gets out of bed at 6:00 on Christmas morning and changes into a set of silk pajamas that aren’t slutty per se, but are certainly a lot sexier than her red flannel onesie intended to match with the rest of her family for present-opening pictures. And she figures while she’s at it that it wouldn’t be the worst idea to brush her hair and teeth…and maybe put on just a little makeup.
She recognizes that all of this is, frankly, absurd , considering that Sterling’s bar for her appearance at 6:30–the planned time for their video chat—is probably on the floor. But things are just so new again, and she would really like for this to last more than three days this time—which she supposes is already a bar they’ve surpassed since opening night of the musical was a week ago. Though that’s assuming Sterling is one to care about appearance, and if the story she told April about crushing on her with a Dorito stuck in her hair is true, then she really isn’t. But April is.
She hums Mariah Carey quietly to herself as she finishes covering any dark circles under her eyes resulting from her whopping 6 hours of sleep. The song is oddly applicable when she is over a thousand miles away from the girl she loves on Christmas morning. And said girl apparently woke up early for this too, since April’s phone buzzes with a text from her at 6:07.
😍😘💋: U up yet?
April can’t help but chuckle at that. Of course Sterling would text her like this clandestine virtual meeting is some booty call.
April 👩❤️💋👩: I am now. You’re up early. 😏
😍😘💋: Chloe woke me up to go out.
😍😘💋: Also I’m super excited to see you.
April smiles and feels herself blush. She’d almost forgotten just how good it feels to be with Sterling. To be wanted by someone she actually wants in return. To be in love.
April 👩❤️💋👩: Well, if you’re ready to go, I guess we can talk now? Just be warned that I just woke up and look hideous. 🥱
😍😘💋: well that’s highly improbable…
April giggles like the lovestruck schoolgirl that she is and returns to her bed, getting under the covers and mussing her hair just a bit before she calls Sterling on FaceTime. “Hey you,” she greets Sterling, who is in a similar position to herself, though Sterling probably didn’t go to the same level as April to prepare for this if her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt is any indicator.
“Hey,” Sterling replies, looking like she can’t contain the grin on her face upon seeing April. “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas to you as well,” April says, rolling over in her bed before changing the angle at which she holds her phone. “You know, I think this is the first year that I’ve been here and actually missed Atlanta,” April notes, though she also knows that it has much less to do with the city itself and more one girl in particular, who she’s missing like crazy even while on video chat with her.
Sterling bites her lip and laughs to herself at that. “Somehow I doubt that skiing isn’t so much better than Christmas Eve dinner with my family. Blair and I actually caught our cousin doing crack cocaine in our bathroom!”
April can’t help herself with a set-up like that. “It didn’t tempt you, did it?” If one finds themself dating a known crack baby, you simply must make light of it.
Sterling rolls her eyes. “No, I’ve had that addiction under control for going on seventeen years now, thank you very much.” She chuckles and shakes her head at April’s bad joke, but April knows she has to find it just a little funny.
“But to your earlier point, no, being with you would be much better than skiing,” April says, smiling more tenderly as she gets them back on track--even if that track is a one-way course to embarrassingly kissing Sterling through her phone. “I mean, for one, instead of freezing myself solid while hurling myself down a mountain, you and I could cozy up with a big blanket and some peppermint tea while we exchange presents…” April’s eyes glance over at her bag containing a hastily wrapped gift from Sterling—which she can imagine was even more hastily bought in order to give to her on their last day of school before winter break, seeing as she had to do the same for Sterling.
“So…you wanna open these?” Sterling asks and gestures with April’s gift to her in front of the camera.
April squeaks excitedly, amazed at the fact that they’re already so in-sync with each other. “Yes! You go first please,” she says while getting out of her bed and going to her bag, pulling out the slightly crumpled and obviously reused Christmas gift bag.
Not needing to be prompted further, Sterling savagely tears into the meticulously wrapped box, which April taped shut. “Ugh, you’re killing me, Smalls,” Sterling grumbles playfully as she struggles to peel off the tape, but when she does and finally gets the box open, April holds her breath for her reaction. “Oh my God, April! I love it,” she says without a hint of irony when she pulls out the picture frame shaped like a director’s clapboard, with “Sterling & April, Take Two” scrawled in the scene box at the bottom.
“Do you really?” April asks modestly as Sterling stares at the picture in the frame itself--a candid of the two of them on closing night of Jesus Christ Superstar , which Ezekiel was such a dear to take. April knows that she absolutely adores it, and would make it her phone’s lock screen if she weren’t afraid of someone seeing it.
“It’s absolutely perfect and I’m gonna put it…” Sterling looks around her room and gets up from her bed, the screen shaking as she walks. She flips the camera to show April where she places it--on her desk, next to her computer. It’s a spot where Sterling is likely to look at it a lot, which makes April’s heart soar with pride. It’s nice to think that even in some small way, their love is on display. “Is that good?” Sterling asks as she angles it even more toward her computer chair.
“It’s perfect,” April says, not sure she ever thought that feeling this way was possible--at least not for her. “My turn now?” she asks, lifting up the gift bag as Sterling returns to sit up in her bed.
“Yes, yes, yes!” Sterling says excitedly, doing a one-handed drumroll on her thigh. Her giddiness is contagious, and April feels...well, like a kid on Christmas as she removes the tissue paper to find two gifts--one flat and wrapped in newspaper, and one that is a felt jewelry box. “The bigger one is actually from Blair,” Sterling adds, making April even more curious about the newspaper one, seeing as it came from the human trash panda herself.
“Shall I open this one first, then?” she asks, bringing it out of the bag. She can only assume that Sterling would like to reserve the grand finale for her gift. Sterling nods and April tears into the paper and reveals a well-worn copy of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. “Of course she got me this,” April chuckles, turning it and its sacrilegious, yellowed pages over in her hands.
“I’m pretty sure she actually went to like three thrift stores to find it,” Sterling supplies, which only amuses April more. Of course, Blair would go out of her way and end up spending a lot more time looking for such a copy of this book when Barnes & Noble is sure to have about five brand new copies at any given time.
“Your sister,” April sighs and shakes her head. They say that in every relationship, there is something about your partner that you can’t stand, but you tolerate it anyway because you just love your partner so much. For April’s relationship with Sterling, that ‘it’ is Blair.
“Hopefully my present makes up for it, though?” Sterling says hopefully as April puts the book back into the gift bag and trades it for the jewelry box.
April is a bit nervous to open it. The last time she was gifted jewelry, it was a big-time ‘too much’ gift from her now ex-boyfriend. And the time before that was a ring from her father symbolizing her commitment to not have sex. Not exactly a great track record there. Still, she knows that not acting excited about it, no matter how she truly feels about whatever is in the box, will break Sterling’s heart. So she vows to seem excited anyway, though that proves wholly unnecessary when she opens the box to reveal a complete bait and switch.
There isn’t any jewelry at all. What there are are two neatly-placed tickets for the Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta. “You got me Cinderella tickets?” April says excitedly, almost forgetting she’s supposed to be not waking up the whole chalet.
Sterling smiles and nods. “It’s a show written by the dude who wrote JCS, so I figured you might want to see it?”
“Sterl, it’s the first national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella,” April says, not sure she can give that name any more emphasis if she tried. “Of course I want to see it!”
“Well, good, because I got you front row balcony seats. You said those are your favorite, right?” Sterling says, and if she weren’t a thousand miles away, April would be trying desperately to not break her oath to the stupid ring on her finger. Sterling listening to her and remembering such details is very sexy of her.
“I love you so much,” April says, figuring that’s as good of an answer to Sterling’s question as any, and she only feels it even more when she notices that behind the tickets is a printed reservation confirmation for a swanky, hard-to-get-into French restaurant on the west side. “So uh, there are two tickets and a reservation for two on March 24. Who exactly am I supposed to have accompany me to dinner and a show almost exactly three months from now?” April asks coyly as she fans herself with the tickets like a damn Regency heroine.
Sterling rolls her eyes. “Well, I was kinda hoping it would be me, but if you have someone else in mind, I guess I would understand. Just be warned that dinner is after the show and gonna be heckin’ romantic.” Sterling gives April that endlessly endearing smile that has managed to warm the heart of even Willingham’s Most Frigid Bitch™.
“Oh, shut up. You know I’m taking you,” April says, shaking her head and making a point to seem exasperated, but really, this is maybe the sweetest gift she’s ever been given. “Though, I must say, it shows great confidence in our budding relationship that you think we’ll still be together then.”
Sterling raises an eyebrow. “You don’t?” she asks, those two words positively exuding BDE, which isn’t exactly helping the whole ‘April wanting to sinfully jump her bones’ thing. There really is nothing hotter than embracing rather than fearing commitment.
“No,” April says, shaking her head. “If I can help it, I’d kind of like to stay with you until I’m old and have to get Botox like my mother.”
“You’re never gonna need Botox,” Sterling says dismissively. “But if you wanted to anyway, I’d support you completely.”
“You are...such a romantic motherf-” April starts to say, though she cuts herself off as her bedroom door swings open without warning, and she’s forced to shove the presents and her phone under the covers.
“Yo, Mom and Aunt Mary wanna know when you’re coming downstairs,” her cousin Seth says, apparently having missed her mad dash to hide the gay evidence--or at least, to hide the Dan Brown novel. He seems to only be about half awake himself, rubbing his eyes and yawning behind his hipster beard.
“Jesus, Seth, don’t you knock? What if I’d been changing?” April scolds him while he scratches his head under his beanie--which is completely unnecessary to wear inside.
“Nothin’ I haven’t seen before, nudist,” he says, then heads right back out, yelling downstairs, “She’s awake, Ma!” before shutting her door behind him.
April grumbles and gets her phone back from under the covers, thankful to find that Sterling didn’t hang up so that they can at least get a proper goodbye. “Ugh, I have to go,” April says regretfully. “But I can always fake a minor injury on the slopes tomorrow if you wanna have another sesh?”
“It’s a date,” Sterling agrees, seeming very happy to get to say that. “Have fun.”
“I can’t wait to see you after New Year’s Day,” April says, then brings her phone to her lips to loudly kiss the camera, and Sterling does the same. It’s cheesy and actually quite unsanitary, but it’s the best they have at the moment. “Bye, Sterl.”
“Bye, April. And Merry Christmas.” Sterling hangs up the phone and leaves April to sit in her bed in silence.
April holds her phone to her heart and knows in her soul that she’s finally, truly happy.
March 24th, 2021 - Sterling
“So, what did you think?” April asks once she and Sterling have left the Fox Theatre and are walking arm-in-arm to April’s car, which she insisted on driving tonight. It’s nice, just getting to be out on the town as a couple—while dressed nicely, to boot, which Sterling knows matters to April.
“I liked it,” Sterling says, not exactly having seen many musicals to compare Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella to, but it’s a strong contender against The Lion King.
However, this simple answer doesn’t seem to be enough for April, who has been practically giddy all evening. “Yeah, but like, what did you think of the fresh take on the story? Or the fact that Cinderella has to belt out five solos?”
Sterling shrugs. “I think Blair would kinda like goth girl Cinderella. And the five solos were really good.”
April seems to accept this answer, or so Sterling thinks.
“So what would you say was your favorite song in the whole show?” April asks as she unlocks her car.
Sterling waits until she’s in and buckled to answer April’s question, but it also gives her the time to actually ponder the question. She knows she’s no great theater critic, but one did stand out to her, and it surprisingly wasn’t one of Cinderella’s five solos. “The song the prince sang in the first act,” she says, then flips through her program to the song list to find its name. “Only You, Lonely You,” she reads off, and April smiles.
“How did I know you were going to say that?” she says, amused as they pull out of the parking lot. “So when did you say our reservation is for at Marcel?”
“Uh, 9:45. But we should make good time getting there,” Sterling says, routing it on her phone and finding that they’ll make it to the restaurant with a few minutes to spare.
“Perfect. And just so you know, I will be paying when the check comes, okay?” April says, and it’s not a request.
“But I’m the one who asked you on this date,” Sterling argues, having saved up a good portion of her bounty hunting money for tonight. And maybe knowing full well that April has a lot more money than her makes Sterling want to take any opportunity she can to actually impress her.
But April shakes her head adamantly. “Sterl, I know that those tickets could not have been cheap, and you work in a yogurt shop. I can pay for dinner.”
She is not wrong about the tickets—Sterling was rather surprised when she bought them to find that the first row of the balcony cost almost as much as the front row seats down below. But they were for April, and if her reaction to them on Christmas and tonight has been any indication, then they were well worth it. “But what if I just really wanted to treat you to a romantic evening?” Sterling asks, reaching across the center console to touch April’s thigh.
April rolls her eyes. “You thankfully are not a dude, so we can avoid the idea that I’m not perfectly capable of paying for a date. And besides, what if I would really like to treat you as a thank you for being sweet enough to even come up with the idea for tonight, let alone buy tickets for...two hundred and thirty dollars apiece?”
Sometimes April’s power frightens Sterling. “How did you-?”
“I went on the theater’s website,” April says as if stating the obvious, which it is. Sterling really should have known her girlfriend well enough to know that she would of course be curious about such a thing. “So anyway, I think I’m more than justified in paying for dinner since you did that and all I got you for Christmas was that crappy picture frame.”
Sterling gasps. “Don’t say that! I love the picture frame.”
“Well, then just consider this part two of that present. God, I thought couples were supposed to fight over the check at least after they’ve eaten,” April says exasperatedly, and Sterling instantly feels bad. April doing nice things without a caveat is a rarity, and she shouldn’t be arguing.
But then, Sterling will take this kind of petty argument over any major ones any day. “Hey,” Sterling says, reaching across the center console of the car to put a hand on April’s leg in what is supposed to be more of a gentle gesture, but considering that April’s dress has ridden up a bit, it comes across like a bit more.
April smirks but keeps her eyes firmly on the road. “Hey yourself,” she replies. “Is there a reason why you’re trying to distract the driver?”
“No,” Sterling says sheepishly, but April doesn’t seem all that upset by this. “Sorry.” Sterling starts to withdraw her hand, but April takes one hand off of the steering wheel instead to grab Sterling’s hand and lace their fingers together tightly over the center console.
July 17th, 2021
My Dearest, Sterling, (Did you see what I did there with that extra comma? Please tell me you get it.)
It has been a month since I saw you last, and I fear that our time apart with only letters as correspondence has left me no choice but to start writing as if I were the protagonist in a Jane Austen novel. I hope you find this as endlessly amusing as I do.
I’ve not the slightest idea why this cursed church camp thinks that it’s a sound decision to confiscate the cell phones of the counselors, though I strongly suspect that it may have to do with the rather unholy act of sending each other ‘nudes.’ Regardless, I do so look forward to your letters, as I long to be in your arms once again, and your words bring me the assurance that I shall.
Your loving paramour,
July 19th, 2021
Dear April, (and no, I didn’t get it, but Google says it’s from Hamilton?)
I want you to know that you are an absolute dork. I love you for that, but it’s true, and you need to hear it. Because I don’t want to have to refer back to my copy of P&P, I’m gonna be writing to you in plain old modern English, if that’s alright with you?
I’d say you’re probably right about the phones and the nudes. Makes me glad that I’m just a VBS counselor at the church since Pastor Booth couldn’t care less if we’re on our phones during. One of Blair’s kids almost hot glued his fingers to his face during arts and crafts when she was sending a selfie to Gabe Adams. Do you remember him? He was in our class in 4th grade but then his parents got divorced and he had to go to public school? Well, I guess Blair found him on Facebook and he’s pretty fine now...but you don’t want to hear about that. And you probably also don’t want to hear that Luke tried to ask me out. Again. Obviously, I turned him down, but I’m running out of nice excuses.
Anyway, how is camp going for you? Make any hot glue projects yourself while you’ve been away? And how are your fellow counselors enjoying you getting letters from your adoring boyfriend? For their sake, here’s something you can read off to them: “Baby, I miss you so much it’s killing me. There really is no other girl like you and I’m lost without you. I miss your lips, and your smell, and the way your nose crinkles up when you laugh at me. You’re far and away the most amazing girl I’ve ever dated and I want to be with you forever. I can’t wait to see you again...it’s only a matter of time.” (You see what I did there?)
Your horny as heck boyfriend,
July 22nd, 2021
My Beloved ‘Boyfriend,’
Let’s cut the Jane Austen crap. I’m so f-ing jealous of you and Blair for getting to do VBS. Do you know what I would give to throw water balloons at God-fearing third graders and then actually get to go home in the afternoon? I don’t know why being here as a camper with my friend Jamie seemed like so much fun because I’m getting absolutely eaten alive by mosquitos in these Deliverance swamplands. Though maybe it didn’t seem so bad because I didn’t have to miss you every single day. But yes, I do remember Gabe Adams. He pushed me off the slide in first grade. Is he still a bastard? Though I’m less than amused to hear about Luke.
Aside from my sunny depiction, camp does have its upsides. For example, counselors are allowed to go swimming at night. I can only imagine how fun that would be, if only you were here with me. And perhaps...we both forgot our swimsuits? On that note, thank you for the readable portion in your last letter. All of these desperate bitches are so jealous, which is honestly all I’ve ever wanted. But hey, if you really wanted to help me rub our hot, heterosexual love in their faces, maybe you could send me a box of chocolate truffles from Kilwins? (Don’t judge me, I think I’m PMS-ing)
Thank God this is only for three more weeks. I don’t think I could handle being away from you any longer than that.
(P.S. I LOATHE salted caramel)
July 26th, 2021
I hope this letter is attached to a box of VERY expensive chocolate, or I’m going to have to have strong words for the US Postal Service. But thanks for letting me know about that place because they have really good ice cream!
If Gabe not texting Blair back since your last letter is any indicator, then yeah, he’s still a jerk. And thank you very much for that amazing visual you provided for me in your last letter. I am never going to look at lakes the same way again. But it sort of does make me think of something. How would you feel about possibly when you get home, we open up discussions about the place our relationship has yet to go? Because I know you said if we went there that we would have nowhere to go, but, I mean, there are a lot of other things we haven’t done as a couple, so I feel like ‘nowhere’ is a strong word. But like, no pressure, and I’m more than happy to help you make all the other girls jealous. But don’t be so mean to them...it’s not their fault they don’t have boyfriends...or maybe it is. Or they could want girlfriends. You never know.
Anyway, Boyfriend Sterling Time. “April, I never noticed until you were gone how much I look forward to seeing you every day. I feel like nobody in this world knows me like you do, and I hope I’m the same for you. It’s so crazy to think of how much I would take for granted all those nights when you would stay over and I’d hold you in my arms. Though I’m starting to think my parents are catching on to us being a bit more than friends if you catch my drift. But that’s okay because that means that they’re just catching on to how crazy I am for you, and luckily, they already love you too. But don’t worry, they won’t tell your parents anything.”
With all my love,
August 1st, 2021
Hey Sterl, sorry for the late reply,
Yes, I got the truffles and you are an absolute saint for getting them for me. If I could kiss you right now, you know I would. One extra long one for every truffle.
As for that discussion...we can have it, but you should know ahead of time that honestly Sterl, I just don’t know if I’m ready to ‘go there’ just yet. I know I talk a big game, but it’s mostly because I really miss you. And I do want to do it with you. Someday. I’m just...scared? And more than anything, I think we should wait for the right moment. It should be special so that we can look back on it one day and not have any regrets. Not that I would regret having sex with you, but...you know what I mean, right?
And as for my ‘boyfriend,’ I must say, he does sound an awful lot like you. One has to wonder if you really mean all those things you say for show. Because if you do, then I feel even more secure in knowing that my heart is safe with you. And against my better judgment, I trust our little secret with your parents. They’re too good for that, and I also suppose there are benefits to having our moms be long-standing PTA rivals.
Impatiently waiting for you,
August 3rd, 2021
I hope you know that the second you’re home, the two of us need to have one of our best friend sleepovers. You bring popcorn, I’ll bring the Cookie Dough Bites, and we can mix them together into that delicious mess that I know you only pretend to hate. Because there is only one thing in the world better than kissing you, April. And that’s kissing you when you taste like butter and chocolate.
Though, to be clear, this hypothetical sleepover would only involve some…maybe intense making out, but that’s only because I haven’t seen you in so long. I do understand why you want to wait for the other stuff though. I think my thought process leading up to my first time was that sex is really just another thing you can do, and the concept of virginity being sacred is rooted in some not great stuff. But I also understand why you want it to be special for you, and maybe I did really miss out by not waiting. Still, though, I know that when you and I are ready, it’ll be magical. And hopefully not painful.
Anyway, Boyfriend Sterl has left the building, but he wants you to know that yeah, I mean every word I’ve ever written to you. Being with you is terrifying because of how completely unafraid I actually am of my feelings for you. I love you, April, and I miss you so much that I’ve watched the John Legend JCS like three times since you’ve been gone. Sara Bareilles doesn’t hold a candle to you.
(P.S. I think I’m starting to get why Lizzie Bennett fell so hard for Mr. Darcy via letter. Even if I’m personally more of a Bingley, according to Blair.)
August 24th, 2020 - April
“Are you sure this is okay? I mean, we can totally just have a sleepover at my house like usual,” Sterling says as she follows April into her house, sounding rather nervous, which April supposes makes sense considering the one other time she’s been here since the fifth grade was the time when her parents were safely out of town on her birthday. But really, she doesn’t think Sterling really has all that much to be worried about when it comes to her dad. He’s seemed pretty genuinely upset by the loss of Luke, which makes April wonder if she managed to sell the straight girl act. And if she did, then the most Sterling has to worry about is John being a creep, but that’s easily remedied by April not leaving the two of them alone together.
“Sterl, it’s fine. My parents are out for one of their monthly date nights, which means we’ll have plenty of time before they come home,” April assures her, though even she is also still a bit nervous, as she has yet to explain to her parents--not even her mother--that at the very least, Sterling isn’t her arch-nemesis anymore.
Sterling frowns. “What do your parents even do for date nights?”
“Dinner downtown, followed by a movie Daddy wants to see, generally,” April says with a shrug. “Though on occasion, they’ve taken the helicopter as far as Hilton Head.”
“And they just leave you here?” Sterling asks, sounding concerned, which is sweet of her but wholly unnecessary.
“I’m seventeen, Sterl,” April reminds her gently. “But yes, because they usually aren’t gone more than a few hours. And I had my chain of live-in au pairs until I was thirteen.”
“Oh yeah!” Sterling says, the mention of April’s nannies seeming to spark a memory. “I really liked the one who’d take us to the science museum and knew like all of the dinosaurs.”
April smiles, remembering that one well, even if none of them were ever around for longer than a year, or even less as she got older. “Josephine,” she says with a sigh. She remembers being inconsolable when Jo quit before her contract was up.
“Whatever happened to her?” Sterling asks as April starts to lead her to the kitchen, where she’s already gotten the popcorn maker out.
April grimaces, not knowing the exact reason why, but as she’s gotten older and wiser when it comes to her father, she has her suspicions. “No clue,” she says. “Anyway, popcorn. Do you want real butter or the stuff they actually put on it at the movie theaters? Because thanks to my daddy, we have both.”
“Whatever you want is fine. Butter’s butter to me,” Sterling says, going to the fridge and helping herself to a Diet Coke.
“Actually, one of them is very much not butter,” April corrects her as she pushes past her to get the real stuff from the fridge. Best to leave the Flavacol and Coconut oil to the man who’ll be lucky to not have a heart attack before he’s sixty. “Now, I know we said movie night, but how would you feel about me showing you my porn collection instead?”
Sterling snorts soda out of her nose. “Uh, what?” she asks, seeming horrified and intrigued all at once as she gets herself a paper towel to blow any remaining cola out of her sinuses.
April rolls her eyes at the child she’s dating. Though it’s a little on her for asking such a question while the poor girl was mid-drink. “Not actual pornography, Sterling,” she says, surprised her girlfriend of eight months would even think she’d actually partake in that. What is she, a guy? She’s never even touched herself. “I may or may not have a not-insignificant collection of semi-illegal, semi-professional recordings of Broadway and West End musicals.”
“Oh, so bootlegs?” Sterling says, quickly connecting the dots.
“Yes, exactly,” April says, getting a bowl for the popcorn. “You can take a look at what I have, but I’m personally feeling an evening with Carrie Hope Fletcher,” she says, sighing at even the name of the actress she’s a little obsessed with...more than a little.
“Is that the British girl with the curly hair and the gap that you love?” Sterling asks, once again showing off her sexy ability to pay attention when it matters.
“Indeed she is,” April says as she puts the popcorn in the bowl. “And just so you’re made aware, she is my Hall Pass if the opportunity ever pops up.”
Sterling rolls her eyes. “Pretty sure she’s straight, but in that case, my Hall Pass is Jeremy Allen White.” She produces a package of definitely melted Cookie Dough bites out of her bag.
April gags, and it isn’t even an exaggeration. Her girlfriend’s rather unfortunate taste in men is why it’s a good thing they found each other. “Okay, ew. Let’s get upstairs and watch Heathers the Musical so I can cleanse my brain of that image.”
Sterling laughs evilly as she follows April out of the kitchen and upstairs to her room, where Sgt. Bilko is snoozing on the bed, like usual. “God, I can’t believe you still have him,” Sterling says as she does the ill-advised thing of approaching Bilky during a nap.
His heterochromatic eyes shoot open before Sterling can pet him, and before April can warn her not to. He hisses at her and jumps off the bed, scurrying out of the room.
“Please excuse him. He’s not a very welcoming boy,” April says as she sets up her laptop and external bootleg hard drive.
“Wonder where he gets that from,” Sterling grumbles under her breath, but April hears her clear as day.
“Sterling Wesley, I am an excellent hostess. And you know why?” April says, turning in her computer chair and getting up to stand in front of Sterling, who’s sat herself down on the edge of the bed.
“Because you aren’t tall enough to be intimidating, even when I’m sitting?” Sterling says cheekily, looking up at her.
April is appalled as she gasps and lightly smacks at Sterling’s arm. “I am so intimidating,” she insists, surprised this is even coming into question. “It’s kind of my whole thing.”
“You have a lot of things, April,” Sterling reminds her, smiling flirtily and biting her lip.
“Incorrigible,” April sighs and returns to the computer to play the show, bringing the laptop to the bed so she and Sterling can lie down together while they watch it.
A few songs in, April is glad that she chose a bootleg that she has watched probably ten times. It's a lot more difficult to stay focused on the show when she’s dealing with a girl who only just confessed how horny she is for April a few weeks ago in a letter....and they’ve now found themselves alone together for the first time since April returned from church camp. But so far, any and all sins involving Sterling have been kept strictly inside April’s head, even while Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Veronica Sawyer decides to seduce JD.
“Remember when Blair and Owen Caruthers went as them for Halloween?” Sterling asks, seeming quite captivated as she takes a large handful of popcorn and shoves it into her mouth like a horse with a feeding bag.
April tries not to let that change her opinion of her beautiful girlfriend. “I do. But I was mostly just busy being jealous of you and Reese Ryan going as one of the best 80s couples of all time.”
Sterling rolls her eyes, having heard this before. “If we were together then, I would’ve totally gone to that dance with you. And we will hopefully have a LOT of Halloween couples costumes in our future if we can keep this up.”
“Is there any doubt we won’t?” April asks, a little concerned by Sterling speaking in such uncertainties when she already knows she wants to keep this going…well, forever, hopefully.
Sterling shakes her head at this notion, which calms some of April’s anxiety. “No, I totally think we will,” she assures her. “I mean, I’d go to Sadie Hawkins with you this year if you’ll let me.”
April sighs, wanting that more than anything in the world, but also knowing that word would definitely get back to her parents if she went to a ladies' choice dance with another lady. “You know I want to go with you, Sterl, but-”
“-But the timing isn’t right. I get it,” Sterling says, nodding and trying her hardest to not sound disappointed, but there’s a reason she’s the assistant director and April is the actor here.
April knows there isn’t really anything she can say that’ll make that disappointment go away--or at least, nothing she can say that wouldn’t be very dangerous for her while she lives at home--but where words fail, sometimes one just needs action. And with that thought, she swings one leg over Sterling and sits up to straddle her lap. “Tonight I’m yours, I’m your dead girl walking. Get on all fours, kiss this dead girl walking,” April sings along with Carrie Hope Fletcher, who is herself in a very similar position in the bootleg. “Let’s go, you know the drill. I’m hot and pissed and on the pill. Bow down to the will of a dead girl walking…”
“I didn’t know they had sex in musicals,” Sterling says, looking past April entirely to stare wide-eyed at CHF getting her shirt ripped off.
April rolls her eyes, surprising even herself that right now, she would prefer if Sterling was not watching the bootleg. “ And you know, you know, you know, it’s ‘cause you’re beautiful, you say you’re numb inside, but I can’t agree. So the world’s unfair, keep it locked out there. In here it’s beautiful. Let’s make this beautiful…” She leans down to kiss Sterling hard on the lips as Jamie Muscato’s JD gives his enthusiastic consent to what’s about to happen--which in the context of the musical is a lot more than April is willing to do just yet, but a little grinding never hurt anyone, right? Well, except for that one time with Luke, but that hurt was more psychological than anything.
“Whoa,” Sterling says quietly when April rolls her hips into hers experimentally. It feels much better doing this with her than with poor Natalie the Narwhal.
April smiles at getting the seal of approval and leans down to kiss Sterling with her mouth slightly ajar, just wanting to melt into her. That is until she hears the telltale sound of the Mercedes’ tires crunching on the gravel driveway.
“What’s wrong? Is this too much?” Sterling asks, concerned when April suddenly pulls away.
April shakes her head, as even in her panicked state, she knows she was very much enjoying what she and Sterling were doing. “No, my parents are home,” April corrects her and is quick to scramble off of the bed and over to her bedroom window, where she watches as her parents bicker upon exiting the car.
“Oh, fudge frick,” Sterling says, turning white as a ghost. “What are we gonna do? Your parents can’t know I’m here.”
“Yes, thank you Captain Obvious, I do understand that,” April says sarcastically as she looks around the room for some kind of solution to this problem, but there really doesn’t seem to be one, and she can hear footsteps on the stairs.
“April, you decent in there?” John’s voice calls from down the hall.
Finally, April settles on a solution, as they don’t have the kind of time to think up something better. “Under the bed, now!” she whispers frantically to Sterling, who doesn’t even question it before she’s getting off the bed and dropping to an army crawl to get under the bed. “You can come in, Daddy,” April says in her cheery fake voice as she smooths her bedspread a bit.
“Hey,” John says upon opening the door, looking around like he suspects something. “What’re you up to?”
April shrugs. “Just watching a movie with Bilky,” she says, reaching for her cat, who has left his resting place on her computer chair to come poking his nose at the bed skirt--or, more accurately, at the girl behind it. “What are you and Mama doing home so early?” she asks, picking up Bilko as he is in the middle of tattling on Sterling with a series of kitty wails.
“Projector malfunction in the theater playing the new Clint Eastwood movie. Your mama thought we should just see that Tammy Faye one instead, but that woman’s always given me the heebie-jeebies,” John explains, and April nods, knowing that a biopic about a pro-gays televangelist would most definitely not be her dad’s thing.
“Well, that’s too bad,” she says, struggling with Bilko, who does not want to be held right now, but she can’t trust him to not rat out Sterling.
John nods. “Yeah, but to be perfectly honest, ol’ Eastwood ain’t exactly what he used to be.”
April scoffs at that understatement--the man’s basically 100 and still trying to be an action star. “True story. Well, Daddy, you actually caught me just as I was about to change into my pajamas, so if you don’t mind…” She glances pointedly at the door.
John chuckles. “Sure thing, Padawan. But once you’re changed, if you wanna come on downstairs, we can have our own movie night. I’m feelin’ generous if you wanna watch one of the prequels…” This is perhaps the only time he could make April such an offer and have her not be practically jumping for joy.
“Sounds good, Daddy. I’ll be down in a few minutes,” April agrees, and watches him go and close the door behind him before she can breathe a sigh of relief. “That was way too close,” she says quietly to Sterling, who crawls out from under the bed and glares at Bilko.
“He almost gave us up!” she says accusingly.
“He didn’t exactly mean to, he was just curious about why you were under there,” April says protectively, scratching behind Bilko’s ear and making him purr.
“April, that was not him being curious, that was your cat being a gosh darn narc,” Sterling argues, but April thinks she’s just being ridiculous--a typical dog person.
“Well, whether Bilko had ill intent or not, you need to get out of here. Like, now. Unless you want to explain to my Daddy why you’re over here without his knowledge,” April says, deciding that there is really only one way for Sterling to leave without either of her parents catching her. She goes to the window next to her desk and opens it.
“Oh, no. No, no, no. I am not jumping out a window,” Sterling says, shaking her head adamantly once she puts together what April wants her to do.
“C’mon, Sterl. It’s the only way. And in a way, it’s kind of romantic, right?” April says, trying to sugarcoat this awful situation as best as she can. “Then, window, let day in, and let life out,” she quotes Shakespeare, to which Sterling rolls her eyes. “Oh, come on, that’s such a good Romeo and Juliet quote! It’s so applicable!”
“It’s dangerous is what it is, Claire Danes,” Sterling says defiantly, crossing her arms.
“No, what’s dangerous is you possibly running into my dad on your way out through the front door. Your choice,” April says, and can see the internal conflict on Sterling’s face as she seems to weigh if such an encounter runs as high of a risk of bodily harm as climbing out the window. In all actuality, probably not, but there are worse costs than just physical.
Sterling sighs. “Fine. But just know if I die that I love you,” she says, then makes to head out the window.
“Please be careful, Sterl. Remember what those firefighters taught us in third grade about escaping from a second-story bedroom,” April says as Sterling climbs out onto the roof.
“Refresh my memory, please,” Sterling says, her voice shaking a bit as she looks out at the yard, which even April thinks seems awfully far down.
“Don’t just jump off the roof. Hang from your arms before you let go to minimize the distance between your feet and the ground so you don’t break your legs. Oh, and bend your knees to reduce impact before you land,” April recites the lesson taught to them before they all had to climb out the single-story window of one of those fire simulator trailers.
“Helpful,” Sterling says, and April can’t tell if that’s her being genuine, or sarcasm. Possibly both. “Can I at least get a kiss for good luck?” she asks, turning back and pointing at her lips.
April rolls her eyes and takes Sterling’s face in her hands, leaning out the window to give her one long kiss--as if Sterling even had to ask. All jokes aside, this whole thing really is very romantic--but maybe that’s just the daredevil in her, who finds it just as exhilarating as it is terrifying that they could be caught by her father at any moment. Those suicidal heterosexual Italians have nothing on her and Sterling.
“Now please don’t die,” April says once they’ve broken apart.
“I’ll try,” Sterling agrees, and with that, she steps carefully to the edge of the roof, where she grabs the gutter and tries to slowly lower herself into a hanging position, but she is only hanging by one hand when she loses her grip and falls.
April gasps and whispers frantically, “Sterl?! Sterling, are you okay?”
“All good,” Sterling replies, sounding like she’s talking through gritted teeth. “Your mom’s rose bushes broke my fall.”
“Are the bushes okay?” April asks, knowing her mom won’t react well to something destroying those.
“They’ll recover,” Sterling says, voice strained. “Only a few of their thorns are stuck in my butt.”
April covers her mouth so Sterling can’t hear her laugh. “Well, assuming you don’t have internal bleeding, I’ll see you at school tomorrow?”
“Yep. Sounds good,” Sterling agrees, and with that, April can hear her crawl out of the bushes before she’s darting across the lawn, activating the floodlights as she goes.
“What in the fuck?!” John yells from downstairs. “Mary, get my gun! I think there was a gotdamn raccoon on the roof!”
December 13, 2021 - Sterling
“Run it again, from the top!” Sterling says into a megaphone (that April was kind enough to give to her for their 10 month anniversary). Is it necessary, given the fact that the school’s theater isn’t that big and everyone can hear her just fine if she shouts? Absolutely not. But it’s cool and makes Sterling feel powerful in the presence of all these dorky theater kids.
“You know, I know I said that Jesus Christ Superstar was my magnum opus as a director, but I think this show is gonna be something really special. I can feel it, Sterling,” Ellen says, practically buzzing with excitement beside Sterling as the opening notes of the show’s opening number start to play for the tenth time tonight.
April enters from stage right in her blue dress, carrying a wicker basket. “Little town, it’s a quiet village. Every day like the one before. Little town full of little people. Waking up to say…”
“Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour, bonjour bonjour!” The ensemble jumps in as April follows her choreography to a tee as she makes her way through the facade of the French village.
Even from here, Sterling can see the pure joy practically radiating off of her girlfriend, who’s just glad to be playing this part. But really, who doesn’t want to be a Disney Princess?
“She really is something, isn’t she?” Ellen comments, looking from April to Sterling, who recognizes that she’s probably watching the stage with heart eyes right now. “She’s gonna break a lot of boys’ hearts in that UGA theater program.”
Sterling chuckles, not doubting that at all. “You’ve got that right,” she agrees, still not fully understanding why April isn’t just going to major in theater instead of law at UGA. Obviously, she’s smart enough to do whatever she sets her mind to, but if anyone could actually do something useful with a theater degree, it would be April Stevens. And if not...well, Sterling would gladly be her lawyer sugar mama. She’s starting to realize that she doesn’t really care what her and April’s future life together looks like, just that it is together.
“Right from the moment that I met her, saw her, I said, ‘she’s gorgeous’ and I fell. Here in town, there’s only she, who is beautiful as me. So I’m making plans to woo and marry Belle,” the actor playing Gaston--a very large sophomore--sings while Belle is supposed to not be noticing him at all, but Sterling can see April’s very real look of disgust from behind the pages of the book she’s pretending to read. It’s a good thing that Luke chose not to audition for the musical this year, or Sterling can imagine that it would have been far worse.
The rest of the scene goes off (mostly) without a hitch, with Sterling making a note to herself that Lorna and the other ‘silly girls’ (see: French prostitutes) need to work on their vocal harmonizing, but otherwise, that scene is ready for opening night. The rest of her notes are intended for the show’s leading lady, and she intends to give those personally as she leaves her place in the theater to go find April backstage.
“Uh oh, notes time,” Ezekiel says when Sterling enters the green room, and he flips a switch on his candle hat to light it up.
“April, I just have some for you this time,” Sterling says, gesturing with her notebook and trying to sound as professional as possible.
April crosses her arms and looks annoyed at Sterling, but Sterling can see her slight smirk as she says, “What could you possibly tell me? It’s not like you would even know art if it smacked you upside the head.”
Sterling rolls her eyes at the melodramatics that April insists on. She’s pretty sure at least Ezekiel has put two and two together when it comes to them. “Now, please.”
April stomps behind Sterling as she follows her out of the green room and back to the wings of the stage, which are and will remain empty until Ellen assembles the cast to run the next scene. When the door swings shut behind her, April’s demeanor shifts entirely. “So, Miss Assistant Director. What are these notes you have for me?” she asks coyly, stepping closer to Sterling to take her hand and rub the back of it with her thumb. It’s a game they’ve been playing since rehearsals began at the start of the year, and Sterling can tell that April gets a sick level of pleasure from it.
“You were...uh...a little flat?” Sterling says, knowing that it’s a straight-up lie.
April rolls her eyes. “I was not, and if you could actually read music, you would know that,” she says as she crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow. “You seem to be scraping the barrel for a reason to criticize me. May I ask why, Miss Wesley?”
“Because when someone is as perfect as you, you need to stay humble,” Sterling says with every word positively dripping with charm in their genuineness.
“Flattery will get you absolutely everywhere,” April says, and then the dam breaks and she’s pulling Sterling in for a hard and fast kiss. With all of their senior year extracurriculars, it’s been hard for them to find much time for each other outside of these Moulin Rouge-y backstage meetings, so they have to make the most of them. “Okay, but seriously, how was I?” April asks, out of breath when they part for air.
“You were amazing. But you could stand to project just a bit more during the spoken parts, and I would like a little more physical comedy from you when Gaston’s trying to make a move. You’re disgusted by him, so act like it,” Sterling says, and rather than seeming offended, April smirks.
“Have I told you that it’s very sexy when you’re so competent?” she says, biting her lip and practically daring Sterling to kiss her again.
Sterling rolls her eyes. “You’re such a weirdo,” she says, finding it completely endearing, nevertheless.
“Oh, I absolutely am. But I’m a weirdo who very much appreciates your honesty,” April admits. “But I saw you and Ellen having a chat. What was she saying?”
Sterling figures that with April’s ego already the size of Jupiter, there’s no harm in telling her exactly what Ellen said. “Ellen thinks you’re going to absolutely kill it doing productions of shows in college.”
April rolls her eyes. “As if I’ll have time for that when we’re taking our prerequisites. And besides, it just wouldn’t be the same without having an assistant director whose casting couch I would gladly grace for a lead role…” she says suggestively.
Sterling shakes her head. “You know that’s not why you got the lead role,” she says, not liking to even be jokingly put in the same category as such corrupt individuals.
“Oh, of course not. I got it because I’m a brilliant actress and I look amazing in a ballgown,” April says without a hint of irony. “Seriously, it really sucks that I couldn’t take you as my escort to the debutante ball last month.”
“I’m sure that would have caused quite a stir,” Sterling says, though, after almost a whole year of being together, she can’t say she dislikes the thought of it. Not being able to take April to the Sadie Hawkins dance was one thing. Not being able to be with April on her 18th birthday was another. More than anything in the world, she just wants people to know that this amazing girl is hers, but at this rate, they’ll be well off to college before that can happen, as Blair keeps reminding her.
“Sterl, you know I love you and that I do so desperately want people to know about us. I’m just...I’m scared,” April admits, seeming to be on the verge of crying at the mention of what they just can’t have as a couple. “You still want to be with me though, right?”
“No April, I’m just staying with you because it’s in bad taste to dump someone during Hell Week,” Sterling says sarcastically and rolls her eyes. “Of course I still want to be with you. I love you, and what I said to you before wasn’t a lie. I will wait for you forever.”
“Well, forever is a strong word, and I don’t think I want to make you wait that long. But soon, okay?” April promises and Sterling knows that, unlike last year, when April had so reluctantly agreed to sleep side-by-side at the lock-in, she means it.
April 8th, 2022 - April
Promposals are tacky. Or at least, that’s what April has generally always found to be the case, and that isn’t because she’s the kind of girl who, for practical reasons, has never really wanted to be on the receiving end of one. But Sterling Wesley, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of girl who wouldn’t outright say that she expects one (how could she, when her very closeted and cowardly girlfriend would surely never come up with one), but has definitely fantasized about it. This has left them at an impasse that has forced April to reconsider some things.
Yes, she is still technically living at home with her hateful and bigoted father, and the plan was always to just quietly come out to everyone else once she’s no longer living with him. But plans change and people have to adapt to the circumstances that they find themselves in. So for April, that means that she just might have to carefully adapt her plans to meet the moment. Because sure, in the grand scheme of things, prom is meaningless, but in the grand scheme of April’s life up to now, it is everything, and in her shiny new life plan, it is a keystone.
April has spent nearly a year and a half with Sterling, and in that time, they have gotten close to having sex precisely three times (or three and a half, by Sterling’s estimate). The first one was the Kacey Musgraves incident in Sterling’s car, the second was the time April let Sterling touch her boobs during a sleepover makeout session that inadvertently led to them having to come out to Debbie and Anderson a bit earlier than they’d planned, and the third was in the costume room under the stage on closing night of Beauty and the Beast. And the half was a time that Sterling got unbearably turned on last year while the two of them worked on their final project for Señora O’Reilly’s class--the girl really likes the implications of how well April can roll her Rs, apparently. Those three times, of which two have occurred within the last four months, have illuminated something for April, which is that she doesn’t fear the idea of having sex. In fact, she is quite excited by the idea of breaking her bullshit vow to her dad to ‘keep her virginity sacred until her wedding night’ (barf).
But the loss of one’s virginity is a milestone event, and April doesn’t want it to happen in a car, as a quickie in her girlfriend’s bed, during a spontaneous rendezvous on some boxes of character shoes, or as a result of her superior language skills filling her girlfriend with an overwhelming feeling of lust. She wants it to be special and memorable in every way, so why not prom night? It’s a cliche, sure, but so are promposals, and Sterling is sure to love this one.
“Can I count on your vote for Prom Queen 2022?” April asks, approaching Sterling at her locker after the last bell as she holds out a $10 Chick-Fil-A gift card.
Sterling chuckles and accepts the card. “You do know that I’m nominated too, right?” she asks incredulously.
“And you just plan on voting for yourself? How tacky,” April says jokingly, looking off, but sees Sterling shake her head out of the corner of her eye.
“As if you don’t plan on voting for yourself,” Sterling replies, and she does have a point there. “But sure, April. I’ll vote for you. It was either you or write-in candidate Taylor Swift.”
April rolls her eyes. She and Sterling have for the most part given up on pretending to hate each other at school, but it’s just so fun sometimes that it’s been a hard habit to break. “Oooh, I’m more important than TSwift herself? You really do love me.”
Sterling looks around to make sure nobody is watching them too closely. “Yes, I really do. But you already know that I think.”
April smiles and bites her lip. She’s known that for almost a year and a half now, actually. “I do know that. But I love hearing you say it.” She leans up against the lockers. “Sooo, any plans for this afternoon?”
Sterling shrugs. “Was thinking about getting takeout and going home to binge-watch that Sexy Beasts show.”
April is...horrified at the level of nonchalance that Sterling managed to maintain while speaking that absolutely cursed sentence. But no matter. “Sounds fun. Mind if I join you? And maybe we can watch Motherland: Fort Salem on Hulu instead? Please?” Give her a misandrist’s wet dream over a furry nightmare any day.
Sterling rolls her eyes. “Sure. Does Georgia-Mex food work for you, or would you prefer something else?”
“Georgia-Mex is perfect,” April agrees, though she’s never been exactly clear on what distinguishes it from regular Mex...probably that weird peach salsa they put on fish tacos. “Want me to give you a ride?”
“Yeah, Blair’s staying late to study with her chemistry tutor, so sure,” Sterling agrees and grabs her bag from her locker.
April smiles at the fact that her plan is all coming together swimmingly. “Awesome. Then let’s...oh wait, I think I forgot my water bottle in the Fellowship room. Do you mind walking with me while I go get it?”
Sterling looks suspiciously at her, given the obvious throwback to their first almost relationship. “Sure…” she agrees and follows April down the slowly emptying hallway. “So uh, as you’re definitely aware, prom’s coming up, and I know you probably already know what you’re doing, but I was thinking that we could at the very least meet up there, and-” Sterling doesn’t get a chance to finish that sentence as she follows April into the Fellowship room and is met with a song from the very gay musical The Prom, as well as a very large and glittery banner that reads, ‘Sterling, Will You Go to Prom With Me?’
“But if you just want to meet up there, I guess that’s okay too,” April says finally in response to Sterling’s earlier suggestion, but she has a feeling that it’s no longer on the table after this.
“...You actually want to go to prom? Together? Like, together together? Where people can see?” Sterling asks in disbelief.
April nods, though being reminded of the giant decision that this is makes her feel the butterflies in her stomach. “This is my last chance to really show off to everyone how much I love you before we graduate, Sterl. So if you agree, I would really like for you to be my date to the prom. I’m not saying we need to go shouting it from the rooftops or anything like that, but maybe we can just go together and let people think what they want to think about us?”
“What about your dad?” Sterling asks. “Aren’t you worried about him finding out?”
April has definitely considered that. “He’s not nearly as tapped into the gossip pipeline as my mother is, and she wouldn’t dare tell him if she heard. At least not until you and I are safely off to UGA.” She is surprised at her own level of confidence, as she isn’t actually certain if her dad will find out or not, but at the very least, she’s too old to be forced to go to conversion therapy now that she’s a legal adult.
“April...this is such a big step,” Sterling says, as if trying to make April see the magnitude of the decision she’s making by just asking her girlfriend to one silly dance, but she already knows.
“It’s a step that I am choosing to take with you,” April says with absolute certainty.
“Wow, okay…” she whispers to herself in disbelief.
“So I’ll ask again. Sterling Wesley, will you go to prom with me?” April asks, and with an extra flair for the dramatic, gets down on one knee and produces two tickets to the event from her pocket, which she went to the trouble of purchasing this morning. Something told her that Sterling wouldn’t be likely to say no...to any of what she is proposing.
Sterling grins like the Cheshire cat. “Yes, April Stevens. I will go to prom with you.”